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TC-Data – A MIDI and OSC controller…from the future

Bit Shape has released a new app called TC-Data, which is a fully programmable MIDI and OSC controller. If you are familiar with TC-11, this app will look very familiar.

A couple of things to get out of the way: TC-Data is a controller, and makes no sounds of its own. It is not a synth. It is an entirely separate app from TC-11. It is also iPad-only, and requires iOS 7.1. And while it comes stocked with 64 presets, the sheer massiveness of this app may be overwhelming at first.

Are you still with me? If so, good. Because if you are willing to put in the time and effort on TC-Data, you will find one of the most impressive controllers available for iOS.

As you can see from the developer's demo video above, TC-Data is capable of controlling many, many devices. However, as I do not currently own a robotic arm, or a concert hall filled with stage lighting, my review will be focusing on how TC-Data can control iOS music apps via virtual MIDI, and an old Casio keyboard.

As mentioned earlier, TC-Data very much retains the look and feel of TC-11, Bit Shape's synth app. The main interface has no buttons, knobs, or sliders of any kind. Using the interface feels very much like you are Tom Cruise in "Minority Report". Bit Shape has developed two apps that are uniquely iPad-based, and for this they should receive a lot of credit. These are not ports or emulations of existing instruments, but a brand new way of controlling your sounds.

To create controls in TC-Data, you can use one of the 64 presets, and tweak from there, or you can create your own custom preset. This is where the creative mind may salivate at the options. And plenty of options are available here. You can use the gyroscope, multi-touch, accelerometer, or combinations of these. Since there are over 300 possible controllers to use, finding one (or many) to fit your needs should not be an issue. Using touch for example, you can choose among holding a note, 'plucking' a note, 'throwing' a note, a twisting motion, etc. You can also set parameters based on 'Distance from Center', 'Angle to Previous Touch' and so on. I can't possibly begin to describe all of the options available, but suffice it to say, if you can imagine it you can probably do it in TC-Data.

TC-Data has four different Module types: AHDSRs, LFOs, Tables, and Sequencers. These can all be controlled as you see fit, giving you an amazing amount of flexibility in programming. I've included a link to the User Manual here, because I honestly don't think I can give full explanation as to the details on how everything works. I'm still in the "let's change this and see what happens" stage, but I'm loving it. Thankfully, the manual is well-written, and does a great job of explaining all of the features of TC-Data, as well as some general advice on how best to use them. Reading a manual can be boring, I know, but for this app, it will greatly increase your usage.

I have included a song from Mood481 (aka Clif Johnston, founder of the Apptronica website and Apptronica iOS magazine).

Clif has graciously shared with me the details of how he used TC-Data on this track. On this piece, Clif used Alchemy Mobile, Cube Synth, and iGrand Piano, all controlled by TC-Data, each on a separate channel. For Alchemy, Clif set up the MIDI CC output section of TC-Data to control the morph grid (both X & Y-axis). Cube Synth was controlled by touch on the main interface, using the 'Distance to X + Y + Corner' touch controller. Channel 3 controlled iGrand Piano by using 2 controllers - the first trigger on touch release, with the note controlled by 'total motion', and the second trigger on 'stop moving', with the note controlled by group size (this gives the ostinato piano notes).

Photo Jun 24, 10 03 41 PM

Screenshot of the patch editing screen (courtesy of Clif Johnston)

Photo Jun 24, 10 05 05 PM

Screenshot of the performance screen (courtesy of Clif Johnston)

If all of that made sense to you, then you will like this app. Below is a video of Clif demonstrating the  "Mere Mortal" TC-Data set-up.

I also was able to easily plug my iPad into my old Casio WK-3500 MIDI keyboard, and control it with TC-Data. When my young daughters saw this, they thought this was some sort of wizardry. When I handed them the iPad to manipulate the notes, they loved it. Now, this may not be the incentive that you need in order to buy TC-Data, but it brought a huge smile to three faces in this house.

TC-Data is a powerhouse controller app for your iPad. There is so much potential here that it might not be necessary for all. But if you are into controller apps like Lemur, or have always wished for more customization in creating your dream controller interface, TC-Data should be at the top of the list.

If you are thinking about buying TC-Data, please consider clicking through our App Store link below.

Special Thanks to Clif Johnston for his help with this overview. Please visit his website at http://apptronica.co.uk/, or download his free iOS magazine at this link.

TC-Data (AppStore Link) TC-Data
Developer: Kevin Schlei
Rated: 4+
Price: $27.99 Download

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